Scientists have developed an effective tRNA sequencing strategy to study microbiome activity

Scientists have developed an effective tRNA sequencing strategy to study microbiome activity
Scientists have developed an effective tRNA sequencing strategy to study microbiome activity
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Developing a clear picture of tRNA dynamics will allow us to understand the activity of natural microbiomes and study their response to external environmental factors, such as changes in temperature or the availability of nutrients.

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Researchers at the University of Chicago have developed a highly efficient RNA sequencing strategy to study the activity of the gut microbiome. In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, a team led by University of Chicago professor of biochemistry and molecular biology Tao Pan demonstrated the application of transport RNA (tRNA) sequencing to gut microbiome samples from mice that were on a low or low diet high in fat. New tools analyze tRNAs, which translate genetic information encoded in DNA into proteins that perform basic biological functions.

Using the innovative hardware and computational strategy described in the study, the scientists were able to create a catalog of tRNA molecules extracted from intestinal samples and trace their path to the bacteria responsible for their expression, as well as measure the chemical modifications of tRNA after transcription.

Each tRNA in bacteria has an average of eight chemical modifications that affect its functioning in different ways. A new highly efficient sequencing and analysis strategy detects two of them and measures the number of changes on a scale from zero to 100 percent at each site. The level of one modification, called m1A, was higher in the gut microbiome of mice fed a high fat diet. This is the first time that researchers have been able to observe a change in the level of tRNA modification in any microbiome.

The m1A modification helps to synthesize certain types of proteins that can be found in high-fat diets, but researchers do not yet know if the difference in modification is related to such a diet.

“There are several ways to study microbiome activity, but nothing is faster and more efficient than sequencing. The result of our research was the development of a new method that reports the activity of the microbiome through tRNA, providing high throughput, which is really valuable,”the scientists summarize.

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